Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Stackify Blog, Vaibhaw Pandey, Automic Blog, John Walsh, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Article

University of North Carolina at Charlotte Capitalizes on More Bang for Fewer Bucks

Open source fits just right

For the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), using technology to further the education of its 21,000 graduate and undergraduate students is nothing new.

In 1983, UNCC became the first U.S. university to electronically categorize its library, and for the past 10 years the school has offered numerous degree programs online.

A benefit of this commitment to technology is that members of the entire campus stays closely connected to each other and to the community-at-large. UNCC's 49er Express portal lets students access course information, grades, registration, financial assistance, and digital library collections and provides each user with e-mail and storage. Other IT systems include departmental intranets, databases for administrative records, and enterprise resource planning software. Immediate access to information and services critical to scholarship, teaching, and administration is just a click away for UNCC's 25,000 users. Of course, the downside of this strong interconnectivity is that the smallest system problem, let alone total system failure, presents a major problem for the entire university. Besides the toll it takes on the day-to-day functioning of UNCC, the amount of time and money that system administrators spend recovering from such events is enormous. Without strong monitoring and management capabilities, the lack of visibility into UNCC's diverse IT infrastructure spelled problems:

  • It experienced difficulty pinpointing and preventing security problems before they spread throughout the IT infrastructure
  • There was a high potential for system errors to snowball with far-reaching effects detrimental to the basic functionality of the university
  • There existed a big possibility that preventable IT outages could threaten the work of students and faculty
Best case, only certain applications would be affected when problems arise. Worst case, multiple systems would be stunted and entire system outages would occur.

UNCC needed a comprehensive IT infrastructure monitoring system to address these issues. The solution would have to serve both short-term (detecting problems in the 20TB storage infrastructure underpinning 137 servers running Linux, Solaris, Unix, NetWare, and Windows) and long-term (scaling to every aspect of the IT environment) goals. In short, any monitoring system would have to be flexible enough to adapt to the large, ever changing needs of the UNCC computing environment.

At first blush, due to the size of the IT environment and the capabilities required, an enterprise-class proprietary monitoring solution like HP OpenView or Compuware Vantage, which allow for extensive views of system components with intuitive dashboard interfaces, seemed the best option. However, because of the limited feature flexibility, UNCC would have to grow into the solution and risk running into intractable boundaries in the future as opposed to having the solution grow and expand with its environment. Further, the cost of buying, installing, and deploying this system was too much for the UNCC IT budget.

"Regarding our system, we were caught between a rock and a hard place. We needed a solution with enough power, reach, and flexibility to help us prevent system problems that could bring the university to a standstill, but we were working with a limited budget," said UNCC CTO Thomas Lamb. "The initial licensing fees for either OpenView or Vantage were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and simply far beyond what our budget would allow. To get the customized dashboards we needed, we would have incurred additional consulting fees - the enterprise license agreements did not allow our staff to customize these systems. And when we talked about scalability with these vendors, the overall price tags began to approach the million-dollar mark."

That's when Lamb turned to open source. Open source solutions allow for the necessary flexibility and functionality but at a much lower cost than the proprietary solutions. For an IT environment as diverse and complex as that of UNCC, this flexibility was not only desirable, it was a necessity.

UNCC implemented GroundWork Monitor Professional from GroundWork Open Source. This solution gave the IT staff the luxury of curbing any problems in advance and keeping things running smoothly rather than retroactively repairing the damage and minimizing the effects of system failure on the university community.

Since implementing the open source IT infrastructure monitoring solution, unexpected service outages have been reduced, resulting in a 15% improvement in uptime. The IT staff can work more effectively, addressing problems in minutes instead of hours and dealing with most issues before they develop into real problems, so there has also been a major increase in system availability. Looking to the future, this top-to-bottom visibility lets IT staff maintain high levels of service to users, regardless of how much the UNCC network grows.

While proprietary solutions are effective in some upper-level Fortune 500 enterprise environments, they are often too expensive and not flexible or adaptable enough for a dynamic IT environment on a limited budget. For UNCC, open source fits just right.

More Stories By Jon Walker

Jon Walker serves as CTO of Versora, an ISV providing Microsoft to Linux migration software. Mr. Walker recently has co-authored 2 whitepapers with Novell titled Migrating from IS Web Servers to Apache SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 9.0 and Migrating File and Print Servers from Windows to SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server 9. Prior to Versora, Mr. Walker was CTO/VP of Engineering for Miramar Systems. Software developed under his direction at Miramar has been deployed to over 20 million computers worldwide. Mr. Walker has also served as senior technologist for Nortel and Xing Technology (now Real Networks).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.